Thank you

Thanks to the photographer who chronicled the recent graduation at Hood River Valley High, from the rainbow portend to hats in the air celebrating (PHOTO GALLERY: Hood River Valley High School graduation in the Columbia Gorge News, June 17).

Americans are lucky to have such educational opportunities, not so around the world. With COVID, 1.6 billion children were out of school, many still waiting to restart.

Fortunately the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is partnering with low income countries to turn that around. The GPE mobilized $500 million to help countries during the pandemic to keep kids learning, like a radio school program in Zambia. The GPE’s new five year plan will put 175 million more children in school for the first time.

An American pledge of $1 billion over five years will inspire other donors to contribute the other 80% of the money needed.

We can help by calling our members of Congress (202-224-3121), asking them to support this pledge. It will give millions of children the opportunity to graduate like the Hood River students, going on to healthier, happier, and more productive lives.

Willie Dickerson

Snohomish, Wash.

Oath violated

Sherriff Bob Songer of Klickitat County has published his manifesto. Wherein, he claims to be the law onto himself.

Sherriff Bob has violated his oath to “the Supreme Judge of the Universe … to protect (me) from…threats to (my) liberties …” by claiming, ultra vires, to be a tin pot dictator.

THEREFORE, I hereby PROCLAIM: Sherriff Bob does not have the power to arrest me anymore.

James Barrett

White Salmon

Continued threat

The Republican attack on American democracy that led to an insurrection at our Capitol, with the intent of violently interfering with the peaceful transfer of power, continues to threaten our nation today.

Republican state legislatures are introducing (and passing) laws that would drastically limit access to voting, allow partisan ‘poll watchers’ to threaten and intimidate voters, strip secretaries of state of their powers and give partisan state legislatures power to take over county elections and overturn results they don’t like.

If the voter suppression laws from Texas, Georgia or Iowa were passed here in our neck of the woods, it would look like most voters having just one day to cast their ballot, in person, on a work day, at a location potentially an hour or more away from their residence.

And then when results come in that don’t look favorable to the current majority party in the state (Democrats), the partisan legislature could simply claim fraud and take over the counting, auditing and certifying of the results from our county auditor and bipartisan canvass board.

I’m guessing my Republicans friends here in the Gorge would have something to say about that.

The federal legislation known as the For the People Act would neutralize these partisan attacks on our democracy by setting basic voting practices for all elections.

It contains provisions that are broadly popular with Americans across the political spectrum, like the ability to cast your ballot by mail, early voting options, online and expanded voter registration time frames, ending partisan drawing of legislative districts, enhanced security through voter ID requirements and requiring paper ballot records and making Election Day a federal holiday so working people have the day off to make sure their ballot gets cast and counted.

This bill deserves to be championed by our Senators, who have pledged to uphold and defend the Constitution, which enshrines voting rights for all eligible Americans.

I urge them to make this their top priority and get this bill passed by whatever means necessary.

Kirsten Dennis

White Salmon

A Sad Story

I’m usually an upbeat person, but this story is sad all around. I’m writing on Saturday, June 19, and a friend and I were planning to come to The Dalles tonight to hear a musician we’ve been wanting to hear. She was playing at a place we didn’t know, so that was a bonus — maybe I’d find a new favorite spot.

But then I read in the June 16 issue of this newspaper that the Last Stop Saloon in The Dalles was fined $9,000 by Oregon health inspectors for ignoring safety limits during the pandemic — and it did so “willfully,” not accidentally. That crossed a line for me and changed my plans, and it also created a lot of sadness.

Sad for me, since I missed exploring a new place and hearing a fine musician.

Sad for the musician, since she lost my usually generous tips.

Sad for the place , since it lost $9,000 plus any money from me — tonight or in the future.

Sad for the owner of the place, who undercut his own claim in this newspaper in August 2020 that he wants to help “make The Dalles better for everyone” and “give back to the community.”

Sad for other businesses in The Dalles, since terrible publicity like this gives all of The Dalles a black eye it doesn’t deserve.

Sad for the Wasco County health department, which worked hard to fight the pandemic, only to have a hole blown in the community’s defenses.

Sad for local residents, who were needlessly put at risk. It’s ironic that Wasco County reported five new cases of COVID just today. That’s five more families now facing the fear, disruption and financial costs of a terrible disease that isn’t finished killing Americans.

Finally, sad for our country. David Brooks, the life-long Republican commentator, fears that the USA no longer has the willpower to sacrifice our self-interests to fight a common enemy. Sadly, the Last Stop Saloon case supports his point.

This is all so sad. Can’t we start working together to eliminate stories like this?

Mike Hendricks

Hood River

Sad loss

In 1978, I moved from Hood River to the upper valley, my property bordering East Fork irrigation’s open canal.

Many miles I’ve logged meditatively walking, writing prose and taking photographs, bike riding with shepherds, and introducing my little daughters to the wonders of this natural world— butterflies, bees, dragonflies, salamanders, lizards, wildflowers, bear, cougar, deer, elk, raccoon, towering trees, otter, ducks, skinks, snakes, birds and owls and bats — you get my drift, I hate to omit any. And it is for these, and those not mentioned, that I dedicate this letter.

Because if the pipeline project proceeds as scheduled, my little piece of heaven, will drastically alter beginning in 2023 when the open canal will be no more. Yes, technically the canal is drained every fall, but only in subfreezing weather is the canal dry. Water is life and life abounds here!

So, although farmers and residents may enjoy cleaner, pressurized irrigation — the pipeline truly comes at costs perhaps hidden. A cement wall I walk past daily has my birth date, the year 1946, pre-dating my birth year. Generation upon generation of flora and fauna have relied upon this stream for 80 years!

So when I read the celebratory pipeline news in last week’s edition (June 23) “enhancing fish and wildlife habitat in the Hood River watershed” I send out apologies to the aquatic and other wildlife that rely on the canal. Where the term demise is more accurate than enhancement.

When cruising Hwy 35, watch out for increased elk, cougar, bear, and deer crossing the road seeking water from the true East Fork of the Hood River in upcoming years. I write prematurely and in remembrance of this wild and scenic place.

I am well aware of climate change and drought, the critical need for water conservation, and livelihoods and food derived from our orchards, and the plight of the salmon. I’ve logged thousands of miles traveling “bone ditch.” My ghost will haunt these parts. I have been blessed beyond belief, and to East Fork Irrigation, I give my thanks for the canal, its upkeep, and my memories!

Ricki Duckwall

Mt. Hood-Parkdale

Respect the law

On June 17 Klickitat County Sheriff Bob Songer posted a long letter on Facebook stating that the Constitution of the United States and of Washington State as interpreted by him led him to believe he has the power and the right granted by his God to ignore laws or regulations promulgated by mayors, governors, county commissioners or health departments. And therefore, he threatens to not only ignore laws he does not believe in (such as gun laws passed by the state legislature or COVID restrictions issued by the governor and the public health department), but to arrest any government official that tries to enforce or encourage enforcement of such laws.

The sheriff is elected by the people and needs to respond to the needs and well-being of all the people, not only [those who]believe as he does. His is supposed to be a non-partisan position and he claims accountability to no one — not the board of commissioners, not the mayor, not the governor — only to the constitution as he interprets it (not even the courts).

If laws are not enforced are we not living in a lawless society? If one man gets to decide if he likes a law and whether or not he will enforce it, do we not live in a lawless society? How can this person be in a position of “law enforcement?”

It is time to re-evaluate how the sheriff is elected and to whom he reports. He must be held responsible to uphold and enforce the laws of Washington and the United States.

If there is a law that requires firearms training before purchasing a gun, he must enforce it. If there is a law stating a minimum age for purchase of a semi-automatic weapon, he must enforce it. If there is a global pandemic and public health is threatened by large gatherings of unmasked people, he must enforce the limits and mask wearing.

Klickitat County is in need of a new sheriff who respects the law and protects the lives of all the people of the County.

Gigi Pomerantz

White Salmon

Road questions

Chip seal was the topic of an Opinion piece two weeks ago. I am a bicyclist, and a driver. I love the roads of our counties here: smooth road beds, well banked for turning, great vistas!

I was startled by the author’s take on things, about the resurfacing of Eastside Road with chip seal. He sounded so angry. I decided to go drive on the new surface. Sure enough it was rough and noisy. I was surprised because Hood River County roads crews resurfaced part of Clear Creek Road in Parkdale, two years ago I think it was, and when they were done it was quite smooth. My bicycle found it a fine surface as well. So what was going on for Eastside Road? The answer: A day or two later it got a second coat of a finer size stone which turned the rough first coat smooth. Ah! My faith restored. Thank you Hood River County.

I’m sorry to say that another question remains. Why two and three years ago did another road agency, ODOT, resurface the Historic Highway from Mosier to the Dalles using a chip seal, single coat, with a stone size as rough as that first coat just used on Eastside Road? A second coat of a finer stone size like that used by Hood River County would have made a smooth resurfacing job. We are left, however, with a rough, course sandpaper-like surface that only the fattest bike tires make happy. Darn it!

One good thing I can report about ODOT locally, when I asked them that loose gravel left from winter, on the bridge from downtown Hood River over to Highway 35, be swept up, they did it within two weeks of my inquiry. That’s great! Thank you guys. And they carried on up the hill, up the switchbacks, sweeping all the way to the Hatfield West Historic Highway trailhead.

It looks so much better, and feels nice and smooth under the tires.

Timothy Curry-Stevens

Hood River

Never enough

Is there ever “enough” for the rich? Why is it even legal for some to own so much at the expense of those less fortunate?

When will affordable single-family homes become a possibility for the families who need them instead of the already wealthy investors? When you purchase an affordable home and turn it into a $2000-per-month rental, do you feel good about yourself? To the people who buy all the homes to turn into rentals — does it make you feel good that you collect these high rents which prevent low-income families from ever being able to own a home of their own?

Perhaps you will never have “enough.”

I am greatly saddened seeing people who have called the Gorge home their entire lives be unable to afford to live here any more thanks to the invasion of the filthy rich. I am saddened when I drive by the many vacation homes downtown sitting empty for nine months every year, when there is no housing to be found in the Gorge without a huge price tag.

The idea of building more affordable housing is a nice idea — one that is constantly talked about in the Gorge but never actually done. However, a lot of these issues could be solved by limiting the amount of properties one person can own.

There is someone in White Salmon who buys up the affordable homes and turns them into either vacation or overpriced rentals. These homes could house many local families, but no. This person apparently will never have “enough”. It is time to change things.

Limiting the number of vacation rentals in favor of the people who actually live here would also be a good plan. Let the tourists stay in the many hotel options or camp. Let local families live in the homes. Why is this such a far-fetched idea?

Because the rich never have “enough.” “That’s capitalism!” They love to say. Perhaps it’s time for the rich to try sharing.

We learned it in kindergarten but it didn’t seem to stick.

A. D. Will

Hood River

Root of the Symptom

The recent claim was made in the June 23 letter titled “Misunderstood Symptom” that psychosocial and psycho-emotional issues were the root cause of most abortions. It was also said that no one sees abortion as a good thing and that efforts are not being made by pro-lifers to help women.

As far as never hearing or reading any pro-choice thought on abortion being something good, I would ask the author to look up #ShoutYourAbortion and you will see countless stories of abortion being painted as a good thing.

As for pro-lifers not helping women enough, there is always room for improvement. However, in my experience, far more support has been shown for women, pre and post abortion, by pro-lifers than those on the other side.

The pro-life movement actually gives women the opportunity to choose life and supports those women through pregnancy, motherhood and even post-abortion life. Hope Medical Clinic here in the Gorge is a perfect example of this.

But the root cause of abortion, psychological issues and abuse is sin. Sin has corrupted mankind since the fall in the garden of Eden. Since then, it is in man’s nature to do evil, which includes abuse, rape, murder, etc. While we should always try and stop these things, the reality is that these sinful acts will continue to happen until Christ comes again. If any education is going to fix this, it is God’s teaching on how to love your neighbor and how Christ has loved the world through his death on the cross. It is sin that causes people to abuse others, to rape women, and that brings people to tolerate and even celebrate the destruction of life in the womb.

The goal of the pro-lifer is not to disregard women and their hardships, but to love both the mother and the unborn child through any and all hardships. The pro-lifer who doesn’t want to support women post-birth should repent. The pro-choice person who doesn’t want to help women who chose life should also repent.

Zac Patterson

The Dalles

Abortion issues

The June 23 letter titled “Misunderstood Symptom, the author thinks that many abortions are performed in the U.S. as a result of deep psychosocial and psychoemotional issues. He maintained that the women have been abused in some way.

As a physician, who did abortions as a family practitioner, I observed the reason that an abortion was requested was the pregnancy was inconvenient for one or both of the parents of the baby. Certainly, alcohol, other drug use and promiscuity contribute to the number of unwanted pregnancies.

So what do we do about it? What I did was to completely stop doing them because perfectly formed arms and legs that I tore from the torso and held in my hand was a severe blow — I had just killed a baby! I confessed this sin and never did any more. I asked God for forgiveness, which he gave along with healing.

There are many women and men who have guilt about contributing to abortion. They, too, can have forgiveness and healing.

They need to confess to God the sin of self centeredness and sexual immorality and turn from them. Ask for his healing and forgiveness and he will provide them.

I think that abortion is an”option” because true Judeo-Christian values have been rejected in our society.

One should remember that unwanted babies can be given for adoption.

Donald Rose

Hood River

PAC problems

The June 23rd letter that revealed the existence of a Political Acton Committee maintained by School Board member Chrissy Reitz, concerns me deeply as it should all parents of students in our county.

PACs have no place in a non-political environment. They are funding by individuals or organizations who want to see someone elected to office and with whom they want to have a working relationship.

The fact that Chrissy’s PAC, left over from the state senate race that she lost, was funded by special interest groups and organizations from far outside of Hood River County should concern all who care about how our school district is managed.

A quick review of the contributions to Chrissy for Oregon finds tens of thousands of dollars from the very same education unions and other special interests who actively opposed allowing kids in Oregon to receive classroom instruction this past year. Did that influence Chrissy’s role on the HR County School Board, and the decisions that were made locally that impacted our kids?

How about the generous contract the board just settled with our districts teachers — a 6% bump in pay after a year in which they missed no paychecks due to COVID, unlike our private sector that continues to struggle to recover? Did Chrissy’s close financial ties to OEA, the state’s teacher union play a role in the settlement?

Who knows, but the point is that the existence of this PAC creates the appearance of a conflict of interest that taints the image of the school board and creates an unfortunate distraction for the entire district.

PACs are for politics, not non-partisan representation like a school board position. Chrissy needs to decide: Is she going to be a political candidate, or be content to serve on the school board? Her constituents are watching.

Kathy Mussi

Hood River

Inappropriate rhetoric

Dear Sheriff Songer of Klickitat County Washington,

As citizen members of the Klickitat County Board of Health, we want to respond openly to your proclamation dated June 17, 2021.

During the past year and a half, we watched carefully as the Klickitat County Health Department rose to meet the challenges imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. We can say without hesitation that we are impressed with the excellent public health leadership and practice carried out by Director Erinn Quinn and health department staff. Right from the start, the Health Department worked with partners to coordinate county-wide COVID responses, including testing, provision of isolation units, distribution of vaccine, and much more. Director Quinn has met regularly with county school administrators to provide public health guidance and support in keeping our school children safe. Meanwhile, she and her staff continue with contact tracing, on and off-site vaccine clinics, public health education, and myriads of other pandemic related responsibilities. All that is in addition to the routine services and programs provided to safeguard the health of Klickitat County residents.

It is shocking to us that an elected county official would make a public statement that threatens arrest and detention of our health department employees for acting in the line of duty. Such posturing and rhetoric is intimidating and totally inappropriate — regardless of your personal beliefs and politics.

Our county public health workers are dedicated professionals whose goal is to protect and promote the health and well-being of the people who live here. They have done and are doing their best to provide services through a very unsettling pandemic. Their expertise is in the field of public health.

Clearly yours is not.

Going forth, Mr. Sheriff, we suggest that you focus on the duties listed on the job description for the position you were elected to fulfill. And hopefully with a measure of appreciation for other public servants among us.

Sue Pennington RN, MPH

Paul Moyer PA, MPH

White Salmon

Thank you Commissioners

To Klickitat County Commissioners: Thank you for your recent letter to Sheriff Songer calling out his intimidating and erroneous statements especially with regard to local health officials who are doing their best to protect all of us. It was necessary and shows good leadership.

Your endorsement of new leadership in the sheriff’s position would be a next good step.

To citizens of Klickitat County: A sheriff who regularly makes outlandish and legally questionable statements and clearly attempts to divide the populace of the county he has been elected to serve does not serve any of us well. I’m certain we can elect someone better.

Joe Zendt

White Salmon